I haven’t run a trail race since September, but I’m hoping to make up for that in 2012. The Mission Driven Eco Run 10K is my first trail race of the year, but I already have a few others lined up in the next month or two. It’s good that I started off at a shorter distance rather than a 15K or half because once I started climbing those hills, I realized how tough trail races are! Results: 49:48 (7:52 min/mi), 6/18 AG, 21/178 Overall. We ran into a few issues during the race and there were a few tough hills we had to climb, but it was a good overall race and I’m looking forward to more trail races in the future.
Almost all trail races are smaller than traditional road races, in terms of participants and scale of organization. For this particular race, there was no race expo the day before to pick up your bib, so I was able to just go to the race the morning of to avoid the extra driving. The website had the 10K route available, but what I wanted to know was the elevation profile, which it did not indicate. It was pretty quiet before the race and the only announcement they made was for everyone to make their way to the start line. I’ve ran other trail races where the race director describes the course moments before the start of the race just so everybody has an idea of what to expect during the run. But all we got was the countdown and the gun to start the race. I wasn’t that worried since most trail races are marked fairly well and they’ll have volunteers at roads that split or are confusing. This course does a series of loops which would have been confusing, but we were properly directed at the right moments. The last mile had one more out-and-back before the final stretch of the race. As I was going up, I started to see the leaders come back, so I was hoping the turnaround point was nearby, but it wasn’t. I ran by a randomly placed cone along the trail, but seeing others ahead, I kept running. Shortly after, we saw runners who had turned around and said we were supposed to go back at the cone! According to my GPS, it was only .13 over the official 10K mark, so I supposed it wasn’t that big of an issue. But I know other runners were pretty angry about it after the race.
The course itself was tough, but still not the hardest trail race I’ve ran before. Although this race takes place in the same park as some other races I’ve ran before, we didn’t have to run through some of the more technical or steeper hills. The biggest one came at around mile 3 and climbs over 500 feet for about ¾ of a mile. If you look at the elevation profile, you’ll see that immediately after cresting the hill it goes down for a little bit but then you hit another mini-hill! The first mile was pretty flat, actually downhill which resulted in a sub-7 minute mile. I wasn’t as aggressive as I usually am on the downhills, but it may have been due to the terrain. The trail was hard-packed, but there were rocks everywhere and random holes which made running down it very risky as such an accelerated speed. But I was able to survive both the up and downhills.